Aspiration

*Why Apple’s new iPad mini will be the dominant 7 inch tablet despite a price tag twice that of the competition*

Americans are an inherently silly people. You can understand our politics only if you get that most Americans, or at least enough to make a difference in elections, vote *aspirationally*. That is, they don’t vote for the candidate who will do the best job for them now, but for the candidate that will do the best job for who they want to be. The fact that most of them never get there doesn’t enter into the equation. So we have laws and tax codes strongly favoring the rich not because our population is rich, but because they *want to be* rich, and it will be nice if the laws are in their favor when their ship comes in.

We aspire to a lot of things, and stretching to get some status symbol ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things makes people feel like they’re closer to “making it.” This is why people buy a BMW when a Toyota would have fit much better into their budget. Why they buy a house bigger than they need. And it’s a big part of why people will spend $3000 on a retina Macbook Pro when they could have got a Windows-based laptop almost as good for a third of the price. Apple understands aspirational purchasing, and it’s a big part of why they’re the most valuable company on Earth.

Next month, I believe Apple is going to do it again. They’re going to announce a new class of device, a 7.85″ iPad. Contrary to most of the rumors I’ve seen going around, I think this iPad will replace the iPad 2 starting at $399 and use the same 2048×1536 screen resolution as the third generation iPad. Essentially, it will be a scaled up iPhone 5 without the phone and running the iPad face of iOS. Same A6 processor, same 326ppi glass, same Lightning connector.

Because it will allow them to discontinue the iPad 2, their last non-retina iOS device now that iPhone 3GS is gone, this means that Tim Cook, master of the supply chain, will be able to use the same glass on all the production iOS devices but the iPad 3, saving Apple money. By using the same A6 processor and Qualcomm LTE chip as the iPhone 5, he’ll save Apple money. In fact all told I think he’ll save so much money that they’ll be able to make a modest profit on the WiFi-only, 16GB iPad mini at $399, and much heftier, Apple-sized margins on the models with more storage or LTE.

With the same display density and processor speed as the iPhone 5, the iPad mini will look absolutely stunning. Everything about it will scream “premium.” But the most important feature will be the prominent Apple logo on the back. Because with that logo on a tablet that thin, that light, and that sharp, Apple will sell millions of them to people who feel like they deserve better than a Kindle. And those people will pay twice the price of a Kindle and believe they’re getting a bargain.

Maybe they are.

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